Pratham – Winner of Henry R. Kravis Leadership Prize & CNN-IBN Indian of the Year 2009 Award

We are delighted to inform our readers that Pratham has been awarded the Henry Kravis Leadership Award for 2010 and the CNN-IBN Indian of the Year Award for 2009.

For those who do not know Pratham, it is one of the most innovative and most successful NGOs (Non-Governmental Organization) in the world. It is the largest NGO in India.

Pratham (a synonym for first, foremost) began in 1994 with a simple goal – increase literacy and provide education to poor children in Mumbai’s slums.
Today, Pratham reaches out to literally millions of children in rural and urban areas of India through a series of programs. The success of Pratham has attracted educationists, development professionals, media persons, corporates,workers, activists, PhDs, MBAs, CAs, civil servants, bankers, corporate professionals, consultants to join the Pratham team. In  November 2009, we wrote about the journey of a young American from a New York hedge fund to Pratham in Mumbai.

The success, the reach, the longevity and the steady deepening of talent would make Pratham rank very high among the most successful entrepreneurial ventures in any field and in any country. The map below will demonstrate the scale of Pratham far better than any words we can summon.

Pratham has grown by building sustainable relationships with corporate, governmental and philanthropic organizations in India and around the world. We know that a major business school in USA has studied Pratham from the perspective of “Building Corporate Relationships“.

Pratham has always practiced the discipline of performance management. Economists at some of America’s most prestigious universities have studied the Pratham model of measuring the performance of each child in its programs. In its dedication of regular measurement and analysis of performance, Pratham ranks very high among the most successful corporations in the world.

We can speak with clarity because we have spoken with these Professors who have studied Pratham. What we have written is what we were  told by these professors and not what we learned from Pratham materials or volunteers in America or India. 

Innovation is an overused word in business. The success of Pratham in innovation is visible to even the casual observer. Witness its launch of the ASER report or its Annual Status of Education Report. It is a household survey carried out in every rural district of India. ASER finds out whether children are in school and whether children can read simple text and do basic arithmetic operations. ASER is the largest household survey on elementary education in India. It is facilitated
by Pratham and executed by local groups in each district. The 2009 ASER report is scheduled for release on January 15, 2010.

Knowing what we have seen of Pratham in India and knowing what we know of Pratham activities and its senior leadership in India, it gives us enormous pleasure to bring to our readers Pratham’s recognition in America and India.

We first write about the Henry R. Kravis Prize because it is a global award. This prize is awarded annually by the Claremont McKenna college in California. According to the Henry R. Kravis Prize website,
Recipients of the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership are global leaders. Their work impacts millions of individuals across the world.” In our opinion, the Henry Kravis prize could not have found any organization as deserving of this accolade as Pratham. This award will be formally presented in a ceremony in March 2010.

Pratham has many friends and contributors in America and around the world. But it is first and foremost an Indian entity. That makes its choice as the CNN-IBN Indian of the Year (for public service) both important and sweet. According to the CNN-IBN Award website, the award honors “
Indians whose endeavors stood beyond the ordinary this year and in the process, built brand India“. The award was presented to Pratham by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

If you would like to know one of the key reasons for the success of Pratham, listen to the comments of Dr. Madhav Chavan, Founder & CEO of Pratham at minute 03:41 of the clip below. Dr. Chavan used this televised opportunity to request the Prime Minister to personally release the 2009 ASER report and got his public assurance to sort out the difficulties faced by Pratham in dealing with the government bureaucracy. We have all heard the phrase “always be closing“. Watch Madhav Chavan put this in practice with the Prime Minister of India on National TV. He did it in less than 2 minutes. Now that is what we call “closing“. Well Done, Dr. Chavan

(Dr. Chavan’s comments begin at minute 03:41 & end at minute 05:13)

Editor’s Note
We have no formal association with the NGO Pratham or with the Pratham USA organization ( a separate and separately managed organization, we believe) in either a professional or a personal capacity. Our opinions are frank and are often expressed in a candid manner. We need to be truly independent to do so and we are. But we must disclose that we have known the founders of Pratham for a long time. We are proud of this personal friendship even though we recognize that at times it might be a burden for them. 


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